Brian Lewerke threw two touchdown passes, had his first career catch and made the perfect pitch to kicker Matt Coghlin for a 6-yard scoring run in No. 24 Michigan State’s 35-21 victory over Indiana on Saturday night.
The Spartans (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) won the Old Brass Spittoon for the 13th time in 15 games, getting a crucial victory in the conference opener. Indiana (3-1, 0-1) has not won consecutive home games in the series since 1991 and 1993.
Michigan State needed a few tricks to pull it out.
The Spartans jumped to a quick 14-0 lead on Lewerke’s 16-yard TD pass to Jalen Nailor and Shakur Brown’s 69-yard interception return for a score.
Indiana cut the deficit in half on Peyton Ramsey’s 8-yard TD pass midway through the second quarter, and Michigan State answered with an 11-yard TD pass from Lewerke to Matt Dotson with 19 seconds left in the first half.
Lewerke’s well-timed pitch to Coghlin on the fake field goal made it 28-7 — putting Indiana in its largest deficit of the season. Then Lewerke helped the Hoosiers get back in the game.
His first interception set up a chip shot field goal and Peyton Ramsey converted the second interception into a 65-yard TD pass and a 2-point conversion pass to Nick Westbrook to make it 28-18 with 8:20 left.
Indiana got within a touchdown with a 36-yard field goal with 3:28 to go, but the Spartans closed it out with Nailor’s 75-yard TD run.
Lewerke finished 14 of 25 with 213 yards. Nailor had three carries for 79 yards and Felton Davis III had five catches for 79 yards.
Ramsey was 32 of 46 with 272 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Whop Philyor, who had five catches through three games, caught 13 passes for a career-high 148 yards. He matched his single-game career best for receptions.
Michigan State: The Spartans never trailed but they sure struggled to seal it and showed they need to find a knockout punch. But at least they got a crucial road win to stay in the Big Ten hunt.
Michigan State: The Spartans play their first home game in a month next Saturday when Central Michigan visits.